Media Regulator Bans the Chinese CGTN satellite channel from airing in the UK

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The United Kingdom. Media Regulator Ofcom on Thursday prohibited Chinese state media giant CGTN from broadcasting in the country, citing violations of its conditions of licence.

In a statement on its website, Ofcom announced that its investigation had concluded that the CGTN license had been “wrongfully held” by Star China Media.

“We have decided it is appropriate to revoke the licence for CGTN to broadcast in the U.K.,” the Agency said, adding that further investigations into impartiality and privacy complaints will soon be concluded.

“In the U.K., broadcasting laws … state that broadcast licensees must have control over the licensed service – including editorial oversight over the programs they show,” the statement said. “In addition, under these laws, license holders cannot be controlled by political bodies.”

It claimed that the probe into the ownership structure of CGTN had found that Star China Media had no editorial responsibility for the output of the satellite TV station, while the alternative license holder proposed by CGTN was rejected as inappropriate.

“We have been unable to grant an application to transfer the license to an entity called China Global Television Network Corporation (CGTNC) … because crucial information was missing from the application, and because … it is controlled by a body which is ultimately controlled by the Chinese Communist Party (CCP),” Ofcom said.

It argued that since September 2020, CGTN has repeatedly failed to respond to important questions or to provide any updates related to its claim that the issue of ownership would soon be resolved through corporate restructuring.

Almost immediately, China claimed that it had submitted “stern representations” to the BBC on its coverage of the COVID-19 pandemic, accused the broadcaster of “politicizing” the pandemic, and issued “fake news.”

China’s foreign ministry said the BBC should “stop harboring ideological bias, stop smearing China, uphold professional ethics, and do objective, fair reporting on China.”

Broadcasting forced confessions

But the rights group that campaigned against CGTN for its involvement in forced, televised “confessions” welcomed the news.

“CCP propaganda @CGTNOfficial is finally kicked out of #UK after years of @SafeguardDefend campaigns against its #forcedconfessions, breaches of privacy and the fact – that it is illegally broadcasting because it’s controlled by a political body,” said Safeguard Defenders on Thursday via its Twitter account.

Safeguard Defenders reported a total of 87 televised confessions between July 2013 and January 2020, many of which were the result of “extreme physical or emotional coercion.”

It was said that the detainees were kept in conditions that create immense stress and fear, including months of solitary confinement, and were regularly deprived of sleep under lights that were kept switched on 24 hours a day.

Some had undergone hours of interrogation during which they had been subjected to beatings, electric batons, restraints, and the denial of bathroom breaks.

As well as being broadcast on State TV in China, several “confessions” were broadcast on Chinese overseas Communist Party television channels, including CGTN/CCTV-9 in English and CCTV-4 in Chinese, or by the pro-Beijing Hong Kong media, Safeguard Defenders said.

Ofcom has already upheld a complaint by former British journalist and private investigator Peter Humphrey against CGTN for unfair treatment and infringement of his privacy by filming his “confession” of alleged violations of his privacy.

The China Global Television Network (CGTN) is a group of six international language channels launched by CCTV on 31 December 2016 under the auspices of the Central Propaganda Department.

It was tasked with enhancing China’s international broadcasting capabilities by disseminating the guiding principles and policies of the CCP according to publicly available documents at the time.

In February of 2020, the U.S. The State Department has designated five Chinese state media entities, including CGTN’s foreign missions, which means that they are considered to be the official representatives of a foreign government on U.S. soil.

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